Forces of Change
We’ve identified over 200 technological and social currents we see shaping the future. Forces of Change are significant drivers in the food, sports, and healthcare industries.
WITH MORE THAN A CENTURY of combined experience at the frontiers of technology, business and science, our team of futurists is exploring the emerging forces that are driving rapid change in the world’s food, sport and healthcare markets. Our team is consistently working to identify Forces of Change: technological, social, political, and medical that impact the world around us.
Steep advances in computational learning will be brought to bear on everything from workout routines to personalized diet recommendations.
Implanting microchips that stimulate the nervous system with current, whether to bypass failed motor neurons or to trigger the natural drugs the body needs to heal itself.
A decline in worldwide infant mortality is driving the growth of the global middle class. Meanwhile, the rising average age among farm workers will become an issue for the food industry.
The future of security is splintering data into infinite fragments stored all over the world. Each fragment is meaningless on its own. The index is kept in unhackable blockchains.
Energy produced in a way that does not pollute the atmosphere. Energy production methods like solar, wind and nuclear are some examples.
Measurable changes in global and or regional climate patterns that began to increase exponentially in the mid to late 20th century. This dramatic change is largely attributed to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.
You can grow your own brain in a dish. You can grow 100 of them, in fact, and test out medicines to see which works best. Individual drugs can be tried against a patient’s own neurons or heart muscle cells to look for efficacy before prescribing. This could drastically reduce side effects and the guessing game that doctors must play when prescribing chemotherapy and antipsychotics.
A gene editing tool that’s cheap ($75), precise and fast becoming universal, CRISPR adopts the mechanism that bacteria use to recognize and attack viruses. It can be used on any organism, any species, plant or animal.
Already, we can print 3-D devices and stents that are a precise fit for any patient. Bioprinting tissues, even organs, will be necessary for every hospital. Printed confections are here, but printable proteins will set a new course for home dining.
Companies are increasingly understanding the power of sharing brand ownership with customers who are eager to create branded content, advocate on behalf of a product and recruit new customers. Millennials and younger consumers are no longer interested in being passive consumers. CPG companies have had to reassess their advertising and public relations strategies to engage this active and empowered consumer group.
Gene-expression editing doesn’t change the underlying genetic code, and doesn’t introduce code from other organisms. Rather, it just tweaks how a gene gets expressed. Because of this difference, epigenetics is likely to be the vector by which gene editing for enhancement reasons (not medical necessity) becomes socially acceptable.
The recent rise in visibility of kids identifying as transgender or gender non-conforming is becoming a hot-button debate, starting in the world of youth sports and moving outward into every walk of social life.
Major corporations are now utilizing gig economy platforms to supplement their workforce. On-demand workers will increasingly become more educated and specialized including nurses, doctors, journalists and programmers. Gig economy platforms’ use of big data, new algorithms, and cloud computing will fundamentally change the American workforce, uncover new efficiencies and decrease the cost of labor.
Consumers are increasingly savvy and open to the artifacts and traditions of other cultures – food being no exception.
The political divide that continues to cripple our political and public discourse has spilled over into business and brand identity. Ad agencies and brands have proven to be hamfisted when using overtly political spokespeople or messaging. Companies are now reassessing the value and dangers of playing with fire.
Cancer cells avoid detection by our immune systems by camouflaging themselves. Immunotherapy unmasks the cancer cells so that our body can naturally attack them.
Just in the last seven years, half a billion people in China have become able to afford first-world diets. The first world’s medical conditions will follow—an avalanche of diabetes and vascular diseases.
Over the next decades, large segments of the population are likely to become unemployed due to automation, significantly changing the structure of the global economy.
Improving exponentially, machine learning systems are vacuuming up data from our disparate medical records systems, bringing about the holy grail of electronic medical records interoperability, and dramatically lowering the costs of drug development.
Augmented and Virtual Reality tech, referred to collectively as XR, will erase the boundary between the digital and physical realms, providing an intelligent overlay on the world we move through and opening up new territories for exploration and engagement.
Thanks to the advent of graphical processing units, the commonplace that computing power doubles every 18 months remains on track.
Bottom-up assembly of machines that can perform actions at the cellular level. For instance, delivering chemotherapy payloads directly into cancer cells (and only to cancer cells).
Even before COVID-19, the ability to access world-class instruction via the Internet was beginning to disrupt the higher education industry. The pandemic turned that spark into a fire, as learners across the globe surged online to connect with the world’s top minds in academics, sports, medicine and food.
Consumers increasingly expect complete transparency around the sourcing and production of every ingredient in their food and every material in a product. If companies don’t provide the data, consumers will find it themselves – and make it public.
Literally shining a light into the brain, to alter the neural oscillation of brainwaves or take control of neuronal firing. This will be used on Alzheimer’s, where it upregulates microglia cells that clean up plaques. It also will be used to take control of pain, and in mental health applications.
One in five adults lives with chronic pain. Pain signals travel along nerves’ Nav 1.7 sodium channel. No less than nine channel blockers are in development, with three already in clinical trials. The potential to decrease pain more radically, without the side effects of opioids, could rescue a huge portion of the population from debilitation.
COVID-19 won’t be the last globe-hopping pathogen to bring the world to its knees — unless we radically redesign our supply chains and travel protocols.
Massively more powerful than classical computers, quantum computers will let us create tomorrow’s drugs in a fraction of the current R&D cycle—and easily break the military-grade cryptography protecting today’s medical records.
A system of farming that works to trap carbon from the atmosphere in soil in an effort to reverse global trends.
The US is the most religious of all industrialized countries; it’s also the epicenter of medical research. Religious beliefs slow the adoption of assisted reproductive technology (ART), and will repel the adoption of epigenetic editing, though it was in stem cell research that religious beliefs hit the brakes the hardest. The outlier here is end-of-life care; surprisingly, the more religious patients are, the more likely their families are to choose very expensive end-of-life procedures. Hospice care is the preferred option for less religious and nonreligious people.
Miniaturization of robotic instruments will aid in highly complicated or repetitive surgeries, while replacing humans in data-driven procedures like radiology and anesthesiology. Robots will not lead to massive layoffs, but we will need fewer people in healthcare over time, as is the case in almost every industry. At hospitals, robots can clean rooms, transport patients, pick up laundry and deliver medicine.
Digitizing everything from livestock health to personal fitness to biological responses to certain ingredients, sensors are bringing real-time transparency and intelligence to every industry.
By 2020, 7 billion people will be connected to the internet. 5th-generation wireless coverage gives the world untethered connectivity at the speeds necessary for streaming immersive virtual reality at 60 frames per second.
Recent advances in our understanding of the microorganism in healthy soil hold the promise of dramatically reducing inputs (water, fertilizer, pesticides) in agriculture. New studies suggest that creating healthy soil microbiomes may also be the most promising ways to sequester carbon while at the same time increasing crop yields for a growing population.
Rather than injecting new stem cells, these methods hack the signaling that causes our existing stem cells to slow down with age. The effect is to wake up our aged stem cells to function like young stem cells, repairing and regenerating the body.
In 2019, Thunberg spoke harshly to the U.N., lambasted the global elite at Davos, and met with the Pope. She orchestrated the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, which became the largest climate demonstration in human history. She ended 2019 by being named TIME’S Person of the Year. Her savvy use of social media, adversarial in-person appearances and clear, consistent messaging galvanized millions of young children and teens to become fierce in-your-face activists.
Increasing migration to cities, away from areas where food is traditionally cultivated, will spur new methods to bring agriculture into the dense urban environment.
Disparities in wealth account for a barbell effect in experimentation with new food technologies, as high-end food culture develops in indifference to the value market.